Your pets are an important part of your family – after all, you love them like children! Find out why it’s important to declare your pets to your insurer.
What the law says
Under the Civil Code of Québec, as the owner of an animal, you are bound to make reparation for injury it has caused, whether the animal was under your custody or that of a third person or had strayed or escaped. If your pet causes harm to another person, you may find yourself facing a civil liability suit.
How are my pet and my insurance related?
Regardless of the nature of the damage or the type of animal, your insurer must indemnify the injured third party if there is a causal link between the pet and the plaintiff. In these types of lawsuits, the damages awarded can be extremely high, since the injured third party may be left with long-term injuries or physical limitations.
Because of this risk, you have a duty to declare your pet to your insurer. It’s also vital to alert your insurer if you think your pet has caused harm to someone, even if you haven’t received formal notice. If you fail to notify your insurer once you become aware of the situation and only let them know after receiving formal notice, the insurer may refuse to reimburse you or even cancel your home insurance policy due to the increase in risk or misrepresentation. In this situation, you would be responsible for paying the damages.
What will my insurer want to know about my pet?
When we talk about pets, we are referring to cats, dogs, reptiles (snakes, lizards, tarantulas), birds, fish and any other type of exotic animal.
Take dogs, for example. Certain breeds like Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Malamutes, Dogues de Bordeaux, Mastiffs and sled dogs are considered dangerous by many people, including your insurer. Their powerful jaws can inflict serious damage. Because of this, you may be denied coverage if the risk is deemed too great, and you will need to find another insurer to cover you.
But why declare a lizard? While some animals may not be dangerous, their food can cause damage (live mice, crickets, etc.). With fish, the potential issue is the amount of water in their tanks. Some pets are also very expensive, and insurance policies have a maximum amount payable. Just something to keep in mind!
What if my insurer won’t accept my pet?
Given the myriad of insurers we work with, it’s almost always possible to find at least one that will accept the risk posed by your furry friend. Of course, a pet that is considered dangerous may affect the cost of your annual premium. To help your cause, you can have your dog (for example) trained or assessed by a professional or veterinarian in order to obtain a behaviour attestation form.
In short, it’s important to let your insurer know about your pets so they are aware of the potential risks. That way, if your pet causes harm to another person, you can be sure of being reimbursed and avoid paying out of pocket. For any questions about this topic, don’t hesitate to contact your Lareau broker.